TXTCA President Kevin Rogers is showing his children a trophy blue catfish in the oxygenated rejuvenation tank used at their fishing events.
TXTCA — Creating Conservation Minded Anglers Through Education
The Texas Trophy Catfish Association was created to promote conservation of Trophy Catfish in Texas waters. They strongly support catch-photo-release (CPR) fishing. Through the creation of their Kids Fish Fest event they have engaged more than 4000 children.
“Kids Fish Fest started three years ago as a way to help bring Trophy Catfish Association into the public eye and integrate with the communities,” reported Kevin Rogers, President & Director, Trophy Catfish Association. “But it has taught us so much more. The youth truly are our future. What we offer and teach them matters more than anything else we do in our daily lives. Being part of a group with a purpose to teach youth the importance of fishing conservation and etiquette through free fishing day events and TPWD youth angler education programs is truly one of the great things I have been able to do in my life.”
The free event is offered each year on Free Fishing Day in Texas which falls on the first Saturday in June. Volunteers teach the importance of conservation and fish handling before safely releasing the fish. They also teach angler safety and etiquette, knot tying, fish identification, how to bait a hook, how to hold the fish, and how to safely release them. Even tagging demonstrations are conducted at the event.
“Kids Fest is an amazing event,” Rogers said. “I have three kids, two younger boys age four and six, and a seventeen-year-old daughter getting ready to go to college. They have all been involved with TXTCA and the Fish Fest events. The younger ones still talk about, ‘Daddy’s job at the lake where we fish.’ They ask questions like ‘When do we go to your job at the lake again?’”
“Seeing my children grow and be involved has been extremely impactful to me on a personal level,” continued Rogers. “It’s where the boys caught their first fish all by themselves; Its where they learned about the different freshwater species, conservation, and fish care. For my daughter it’s where she got her first experience with volunteering, working with non-profits, and the community.”
A highlight of the day is the large oxygenated rejuvenation tank where the children can see and touch trophy catfish. Local volunteer anglers hit the water the night before to catch some big cats for the tank. Other volunteers monitor the big cats to ensure that they remain healthy and strong.
The kids gather around the tank where they can touch their fins, see their teeth, and feel their strength. Tagging procedures and proper fish handling are demonstrated before the kids see the fish released safely back into the water. Their website reports a 100 percent survival rate of their trophy catfish.
“Hosting Kids Fish Fest has brought us the popularity and support of donors,” reported Event Coordinator, Guppy Slaughter. “This support has allowed us to operate the conservation side of our organization.”
“None of this would have been possible without our volunteers and the companies that support us,” added Rogers. “I really wish I could do more to show how much they mean to us, and how important and meaningful what they do truly is as every single dollar and hour of time means something. But if the best we can do is continue to help kids hook a fish and learn the importance of conservation, I am happy to do so.”
As Event Coordinator, Guppy and her volunteers produced the First Annual Casting for Casey event in 2019. It is a free fishing event for children and families with special needs. It was named in memory of Guppy’s son, Casey.
TXTCA was able to obtain a waiver from Texas Parks & Wildlife to eliminate the need for a fishing license at the event, so no parent would have to acquire a license to fish alongside their child. Casting for Casey will be held annually on his birthday weekend in September.
“As a 501c3 not for profit organization, we have no paid staff,” concluded Guppy. “Everyone affiliated with TXTCA is a volunteer, offering their time to benefit the fish, the children, and nature. We must educate others about how to help! We must spread awareness of this issue before it is too late!”
It is the hope of the Trophy Catfish Association to have a TCA branch operating in every state, pushing conservation while also hosting Kids Fish Fest and Casting for Casey events. For more information or if you would like to become an ambassador contact TXTCA at firstname.lastname@example.org.